It’s That Time of Year

May 14, 2024


It always seems like “it’s that time of year”. We can make a case for the summer being that time of year if we like to feel relaxed and slow down a bit. We can make a case for the fall being that time of year if we like to feel energized by starting anew and (what used to be) enlivened through a brisk weather change. We can make a case for the winter being that time of year if we like to engage in the holidays and perhaps some nesting over a dark season. So, what about the spring? We could make a case for it being that time of year if we like the anticipation of emerging blooms and growth in nature. However, in the loss world, what makes springtime, that time of year is the intensity and frequency of everyday losses. This is especially true for children. While they may find some happiness with the ending of the school year, these are still changes and “they’re all happening at the same time”. Change is loss and loss is change.  


Childhood is one of those developmental times where everything you’re involved with, every system of accountability, every form of containment and socialization that has been building all school year end around the same time. While nature is coming alive, everything is ending. Children know this intuitively. And yes, while there can be things to look forward to in the summer (for some) and perhaps excitement for the end of the year, we still need to acknowledge all the endings. For example, a student may finally have had a good year academically, socially and / or emotionally. Resulting from this, may be a powerful response to having to let this go. Adults may address a behavioral response from the student with some version of “aren’t you looking forward to the summer?”. The intensity of the grief is always proportional to the attachment. The success of the year can be a building block for the future but only if we recognize the ending.


Of course, the end of the school year happens every year. It’s “normal”, “happens for everyone”, “don’t be sad because it’s ending, be glad it happened”. All these statements are true AND flawed – because they are minimizing statements designed to NOT acknowledge any feelings. Often times we defer to either our logic or emotion to help us regulate the moment. To live fully is to integrate both sides of our brain – the logical and emotional sides. For some children it might not be as big of a deal as it is for others, yet it’s still a big deal – endings are always relative. Emotional, behavioral, cognitive, physical and/or spiritual needs can start to surface with anticipatory grief. The school year winding down is anticipatory. There is no road map for how to hold on while letting go. We learn by doing it and getting supported.


By the way, all that is discussed here applies to adults and not just those in an academic or child focused field. Adults have nondeath losses and changes all the time, just not always in the same season.


What does That time of year mean to you?